Athletics: Noguchi plans to put down another marker for Paula

The one prize Radcliffe does not own - and which she craves above all others - is the Olympic crown that disappeared from her horizon when Mizuki Noguchi left her suffering in the heat and humidity on the long climb up towards the outskirts of Athens last year.

While Radcliffe ground to a painful halt, three miles from the finish line, the diminutive Noguchi - all 4ft 11in and 6st 7lb of her - strode on to victory. Her place in the history books assured, as a winner on the course on which Spiridon Louis won the original marathon in the first Games of the modern Olympic era, the Japanese runner has been content to rest on her hard-won Athenian laurels for the past year and a month. Until this morning, that is.

It is fair to assume that Radcliffe's first act after completing her morning run in the French Pyrenees, as she works towards the Nike Run London 10km road race on 16 October, will be to hook up to the inter-net to discover how Noguchi has fared in the Berlin Marathon. Having conquered the heat, humidity and hills of Athens (thanks to a slight frame that was better suited to the conditions than Radcliffe's slender but significantly bigger 5ft 8in and 8st 7lb build, and thanks to a summer of hill-training at St Moritz), Noguchi will be chasing a fast time on a flat, big- city course for the first time since she rose to prominence with her silver-medal-winning run behind Kenya's Catherine Nderaba at the 2003 World Championships in Paris.

Radcliffe's world record, the 2hr 15min 25sec she clocked in London two years ago, would appear to be beyond reach, but in the context of a rivalry building towards the Beijing Olympic marathon in 2008 it will be intriguing to see if Noguchi can break through the 2hr 20min barrier and get near the Briton's world-leading time for 2005. At 27, Radcliffe's junior by four years, her personal best stands at 2hr 21min 18sec, dating back to the Osaka Women's Marathon in January 2003.

"I would like to get close to Paula's world record, but I need to do it step by step," Noguchi announced at her pre-race press conference. "It is a very, very strong record. My aim in Berlin is a Japanese record. The course is good for breaking it. It is flat and I will be running with three pacemakers. It will also be the first time I have run in a marathon with men in the field. I have only run in marathons for women so far."

It was in Berlin in 2001 that Noguchi's compatriot Naoko Takahashi became the first woman to break 2hr 20min for the marathon. The Olympic champion in Sydney in 2000, Takahashi clocked 2hr 19min 46sec in the German capital. In Berlin last year Yoko Shibui improved the Japanese record to 2:19:41, and that mark - plus the Asian record of 2:19:39, held by Yingjie Sun of China - would appear to be well within the grasp of Noguchi, who has again prepared assiduously at high altitude in Switzerland.

One of her training sessions in St Moritz comprised a staggering 45 repetitions of 400 metres on the track. "There were some men's runners from Europe watching me," Noguchi said. "They were convinced I was crazy."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago